Marketing has become key to businesses in every industry. The rise of social media allows companies to reach new audiences and clients. Although marketing doesn’t immediately come to mind when we think of architecture, it plays a large role in developing reputability and generating work for a firm.
Whether you’re part of a large firm, or just starting your own, here are the 7 actions you can bet your in-house marketing guru should be on top of!
What the Marketing Team does for Architecture Firms
An Online Presence
The AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) industry is generally business-to-business, which means social media doesn’t work for us the way it does for business that sell directly to consumers. Even though we’re a special case, it does still play an important role. A strong online presence builds rapport with clients when you post about the work you do for them, and can help in recruiting talent. Posting about your workplace culture gives job-seekers a glimpse into what their future could hold! When it comes to the firm’s website, the marketing team maintains content, pages, and project updates to ensure that it clearly conveys the firm’s story.
While PR (Public Relations) and Marketing are quite different, they go hand-in-hand. PR is the practice of managing awareness and perception of your firm. It is not paid media (which is essentially advertising.) Through PR efforts, someone at your firm might be interviewed by or write a piece for a trade publication, you may receive an award, or a leader may be asked to speak at a conference. All of these generate publicity in a somewhat-organic fashion. However, PR doesn’t just ‘happen.’ PR agents work with marketing teams to develop press releases along with portfolio samples and submit those to publications for their consideration. PR is also about managing public perception. If not done well, it can have serious consequences for a firm’s reputation, and therefore its ability to attract clients.
When we wrap up projects, the marketing team is responsible for getting those photo ops! We coordinate with the client, the project team, our photographer, and models (if necessary) to set up a photoshoot. We ask the project team what story they want to tell about their experience on the job, and then we look to get shots that tell the story. Occasionally this requires staging (and those models I mentioned!) to get the right look. To be sure we can get everything in a tight time frame, we sometimes plan photoshoots months in advance. Once we have high-quality photos of our finished work, we make sure to highlight them on the firm’s website, in proposals, in award submissions, and through our PR efforts.
Every firm wants to be “award-winning,” right? Well, to make that a reality we have to submit for consideration! Design award juries don’t just pick random projects – marketing teams and PR agents actively submit their work and clients to award committees for a chance to be recognized. There are project awards based on category, size and location, as well as awards for the firm itself. The marketing team is responsible for writing project submissions and gathering images to accompany them as we submit ourselves and our work for consideration.
RFPs (Requests for Proposals) are one of the more direct ways that marketing teams bring in clients and revenue for a firm. Potential clients issue an RFP that outlines what kinds of services they need and what they’re looking for from a firm. Once we see that RFP, it’s on us to respond and showcase our best work in hopes of being selected. Marketing professionals create and send out a branded document that outlines the background of the firm, highlights relevant projects, and showcases the staff who will work with the client if the project is awarded to them. Producing this response to the RFP requires our marketing team to communicate and coordinate with other staff within the firm to ensure that the submission is accurate.
The best brands are easily recognizable because of rigid enforcement of their brand standards. By using consistent logos, fonts, colors, and language in online content, office design, and media coverage, a firm can communicate its culture and core values to prospective clients and talent. Marketing professionals within firms use guidelines to create content that aligns within the firm’s brand standards. While a designer either works on-contract or in-house to create these standards and the accompanying guidelines, the marketing team is responsible for enforcing them.
A Familiar Face
Marketing professionals within architecture firms attend events and serve as the ‘face’ of the firm. Whether at a trade show or a project ribbon cutting, the marketing team is there (along with firm leadership) to be a presence on behalf of the firm and leverage these events to generate content for posts and build connections with potential clients.
Marketing teams do a lot within the architectural community. So if you’re in the office with a marketing team, stop by for a minute to say ‘thanks’ for the work they’re doing! And if your firm doesn’t have one yet, now is a great time to explore making an addition. Marketing professionals work behind-the-scenes, but their impact is clear. Invest in a marketing team, whether in-house or with an agency, and you’ll see results!
Kriselle Mendoza is a Marketing Coordinator for RDC-S111, Inc. In her role, she works in a collaborative environment servicing RDC, a firm providing architectural services for large and small companies including Whole Foods, Equinox, and Wal-Mart. In addition, Kriselle carries out marketing for the firm’s partner studio, Studio One Eleven, which works throughout the Los Angeles Region to provide Urban Design, architectural, planning, and landscape architecture work as part of projects which contribute to the well-being of local communities.